MINOT, N.D. — "The American people should make no mistake — a vote by any senator for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions," Senate Majority Leader Chuch Schumer said last year in opposition to Barrett's pending, and ultimately successful, appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This week Barrett joined a 7-2 SCOTUS majority upholding the legality of the ACA.
So much for that prediction.
Politically speaking, this opinion is not a happy outcome for Republicans.
As a matter of civics, those who care about courts ruling on a clear reading of the law shouldn't be enthused either.
"No one can fail to be impressed by the lengths to which this Court has been willing to go to defend the ACA against all threats,” Justice Sam Alito wrote in his dissent before listing the various absurdities the court's majority has resorted to on their path to protecting Obamacare. "A penalty is a tax. The United States is a State. And 18 States who bear costly burdens under the ACA cannot even get a foot in the door to raise a constitutional challenge. Fans of judicial inventiveness will applaud once again."
Even Justice Clarence Thomas, though he concurred with the court's majority, acknowledged the court's winding path to upholding this controversial law. "This Court has gone to great lengths to rescue the Act from its own text," he wrote (his concurrence is based on the conclusion that the states didn't make their case in this particular suit).
But let's set the Obamacare debate aside.
We were told that these appointments would usher in an era of political extremism on the court. Democrats claimed these justices would join the other Republican appointees — Alito, Thomas, and John Roberts — to herd a cattle drive of conservative-friendly opinions.
Our liberal friends raised untold millions of dollars on those claims. Democratic candidates made it a part of their campaign platforms.
Now our liberal friends would like us to forget all those extreme things they said and did — up to and including the disgraceful campaign of smears and persecution leveled at Kavanaugh, in particular — because they got a major ruling they like.
One that's politically convenient for them.
“What yesterday’s ruling showed is that despite the unwavering commitment from the NDGOP to taking away your healthcare, your neighbor’s healthcare, and weakening our communities through worse coverage at higher costs, they have failed," Democratic-NPL chairman Patrick Hart said in a press release responding to the ruling.
I guess the court is only packed with extremists when it issues opinions Democrats don't like?
Again, Democrats (and many Republicans, clearly) would have us believe that the courts are inherently political and that judges are just more politicians. Yet that's not how it's working out, even with SCOTUS currently seating two Republican appointees for every Democrat appointee.
"[T]he conservatives are showing a diversity of legal views that are neither in lockstep nor radical," the Wall Street Journal observes in an editorial.
Perhaps it's time for Democrats to apologize for their egregious attacks on Trump's court nominees.
Perhaps it's also time for pigs to take flight.
As for Obamacare, it's high time Republicans stopped pinning their hopes on lawsuits and focused on winning political majorities that can effectively reform health care, and health insurance, in ways that might actually deliver the affordability the misnomered Affordable Care Act promised.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.